Sub-Saharan Africa continues to carry a high burden of communicable diseases such as TB and HIV and non-communicable diseases such as hypertension and other cardiovascular conditions. Although investment in research has led to advances in improvements in outcomes, a lot still remains to be done to build research capacity in health. Like many other regions in the world, Sub-Saharan Africa suffers from a critical shortage of biostatisticians and clinical trial methodologists.
Funded through a Fogarty Global Health Training Program grant, the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences at Stellenbosch University in South Africa established a new Masters Program in Biostatistics which was launched in January 2017. In this paper, we describe the development of a biostatistical and clinical trials collaboration Module, adapted from a similar course offered in the Health Research Methodology program at McMaster University.
Guided by three core principles (experiential learning; multi-/inter-disciplinary approach; and formal mentorship), the Module aims to advance biostatistical collaboration skills of the trainees by facilitating learning in how to systematically apply fundamental statistical and trial methodological knowledge in practice while strengthening some soft skills which are necessary for effective collaborations with other healthcare researchers to solve health problems. We also share some preliminary findings from the first four cohorts that took the Module in January–November 2018 to 2021. We expect that this Module can provide an example of how to improve biostatistical and clinical trial collaborations and accelerate research capacity building in low-resource settings.
Fogarty International Center of the National Institutes of Health.